There comes a point in time where most of us are just ready to be finished with our works in progress. There is something Zen about being midway through an ambitious project and being intimately comfortable with stitches and yarn. That Zen can easily become disrupted by the realization that there's a looooong way to go or, alternately, the end is near and the compulsion to rush sets in. Blocking is the magical tool that can either amplify or restore the Zen of crafting gorgeous knits.
For example, my current WIP is Marie Greene's Apogean sweater knit with Amano Eco Puna (and Eco Traceable). I'm thrilled to be through the main body and am feeling quite eager to add some lovely pink ribbing around all of the edges. Yesterday I was really in the groove. Part of me wanted to go ahead and slap on those ribs and wear my work to work! For once my better judgement kicked in. "You'd better wait and block this" my conscience sang "you'll be able to check the fit AND your stitches will look more lovely." As with every time I block: I'm amazed at how much happier I am with my work. The stitches are more even and I'm now confident that I don't need to add any length before beginning my ribbed edges. It never fails. I think something looks "good enough" and then I block and realize that "this is great!" My Zen is back - my work is worth taking the time to carefully finish.
Linda recently brought in her own WIP, the Marina top (knitted with Berroco Isola) and blocked it to see how things were really going. The answer is: fabulous! Her work is gorgeous and taking time to block helped her see the payoff she's working toward. Zen amplified!
There are several blocking techniques out there. For my alpaca wool Apogean I went ahead and used "wet blocking." The first step is to put some wool wash into a bowl of tepid water and gently saturate my top in the water. I let the whole shebang soak for 20 minutes and then *gently* poured out the water and removed my top from the bowl. I laid the top out onto a large clean towel and folded the towel over the top so it was completely covered. Next, I gently rolled up the towel and ....walked on it! The idea is to get as much water pressed out of the fiber as I could without wringing the whole thing out of shape. From there I laid the top out onto my blocking boards and pinned it into the shape that I'd like. Once the top is dry I'll remove the pins and proceed with my finishing.
Linda's Marina top is made from a cotton linen blend. She chose to spray her work instead of soaking. She followed the same process of laying out a blocking mat, gently working her fabric into the desired shape, and pinning it down.
Wet Blocking and Spray Blocking aren't the only ways to block - you can also get steamy! Stay tuned for a post all about this lovely option.
So there you have it! Whether you're partway into a project or wrapping things up, blocking is a magical way to rejuvenate your work and finish strong. Need help keeping your yarny Zen? Whether you need help with blocking or any other technique...you know where to find us :).